Among the 124 names recommended for appointment as judges by high court collegiums which are under consideration with the Union government and the Supreme Court Collegium, only four are from the Scheduled Castes and only three are from the Scheduled Tribes.
THE Union government on Friday informed the Parliament that a total of 569 judges were appointed to the high courts since 2018. Of the 569 judges, 17 belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs), nine to the Scheduled Tribes (STs), 64 to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and 15 belong to minority communities. Information on the social background of 20 judges is not available with the government.
Recording data regarding social diversity in the appointment of high court judges has been institutionalised by the government since 2018 in consultation with the Supreme Court.
The government was asked a set of questions by Member of Parliament(MP) Naba Kumar Sarania which included:
The details of SC and ST advocates who have been designated as Senior Advocates and Advocates-on-Record in the high courts and the Supreme Court, court-wise;
The details of SC and ST judges and advocates who have been proposed to be appointed as judges of high courts and the Supreme Court in the recent past;
The details of SC and ST judges and advocates actually appointed as judges of high courts and Supreme Court since independence; and
It was also responding to a similar set of questions asked by MP D. Ravikumar.
Responding to the questions, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informed the Parliament that as per the information available on court websites, as of December 11, 2021, there are 436 designated senior advocates and 3,041 Advocates-on-Record in the Supreme Court. Further, the high courts have approximately 1,306 designated senior advocates.
The minister added that no specific details are maintained with regard to the number of SC/ST members of the designated senior advocates.
Regarding the question of appointment of judges, the minister informed the Lok Sabha that the appointment of judges of the high courts is made under Articles 217 and 224 of the Constitution, which do not provide for reservation for any caste or class of persons. However, the government is committed to social diversity in the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary and has been requesting the Chief Justices of high courts that while sending proposals for appointment of judges, due consideration be given to suitable candidates belonging to SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women to ensure social diversity in appointment of judges to high courts.
He added that as on March 16, 2023, the high court collegiums have recommended 124 names for appointment as high court judges which are under consideration with the Union government and the Supreme Court Collegium. Of these, four recommendees belong to the SC category and three recommendees belong to the ST category.